Monday, October 31, 2005

Hail Rushmore, reflect upon it.

We went to Rushmore on our trip out here. You can just barely see the four of us- mom, dad, j and me- in the bigger pic. You can also see that when I told J to hold still, he had to put his camera up and work on getting a shot, so you can see his lens and mine. And you can see that he has fabulous thick hair, but that's mine so back right on off, chikas.

After ridding the dang madison (still not sold) house of cardboard and garbage and goodwill items- literally countless trips in 2 cars- we finally got on the road just 6 hours after we had planned.

If we had rented our own recycling/dumpster we would have been fine. But you'd think that two little humans wouldn't need that much space for WASTE.

I'm in the Governor's Cup Coffee shop again. If you are ever near Salem, come here. The guy behind the counter is wearing cat-eye contacts today for halloween. At first glance he looks like an off-duty marine, but then he's sporting these wacky eyes. Kinda cool. Plus the bagel, steamed milk and bottle of water I bought cost less than a single drink as Fartbucks. (But still, God bless corporate America. How else could you count on the coffee driving through Kennewick, Washington?)

Are you circumcized?

Yesterday at Imago was excellent. We learned several things.

They do communion every week.
The kids ministry is amazing- lots of science and art projects and a very enthusiastic director.
The pastor here has got stuff to say.

He spoke about Romans again, starting with 2:17 about the Law and who has it and circumcision, both literally and figuratively. I love these passages because my Intervarsity bible study did them and we had several physicists who doubled as budding theologians leading it who really prepared every week. The discussions were not of the surface, they tried to explain several different views and since it was also my first real study I asked a lot about the nature of God and our relationship to him. I never felt they gave the Christianese answer.

What I loved about Pastor Rick's schpiel yesterday was when he started talking about how for the Jews, this outward sign of circumcision- given to Abraham as a mark of love- became instead an "I'm safe from Hell" pass. It should go from inner reality to outward sign, but they began going only as far as the outward display, relying on that alone.

Paul's point was that you are a "Jew" if you are inwardly- no matter your race, appearance, lack of other jewish things. This relationship is open to all mankind but it's for God alone.

And here's where it got even better: he started answering the "so what" question in our lives/times.

Religion can be just as dangerous as straight-up immorality.

Here's some tokens of it- in place of circumcision, these determine today in our religion whether you're in or out:
Have you prayed the sinner's prayer? Rick led tons of people in this who had never been and never did go to church or talk about God stuff afterward. Like the words themselves are magic- outward sign of inward nothing.
Are you "SAVED"? Focus on this puts our attention on the next life, not on the difficulties of living this one in a true relationship with God.
Do you know your Bible? Knowledge of the bible's great- with the purpose of knowing God. This one spoke to me, because I can so see myself feeling like I know some Greek root of something, or some cool interpretation of a verse and just deciding I've got that part "down"- no need to check in with what depth of knowledge God actually wants for me.
Do you take communion every week? Is it a hoop, a display, a sign your faith is all done?
Are you being busy for Jesus? This one has gotten a little more attention lately even in the more Dobson-y circles. Jesus doesn't want you busy- he wants you attentive to Him, which sometimes might mean lots of stuff on your plate- but not because it looks good, and not because then you're safe.

All of these have one thing in common: the aim is to keep you safe from God.. As in, I'm saved, I tithe, I'm busy, I know me some Greek: God can't touch me- I've done all the religious tasks and am in the clear.

Rick's answer to this kind of thinking was a simple concept, difficult for me to achieve. Honesty.

That includes prayer for God's work in your life- even when that might not be safe.
Maintaining focus on your purpose in life- to know God.
Asking constantly, "why would I rather have X than you?"

This changes every single one of the religious dangers into beauty and creates an honest journey.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturdays are for lazing.

I love Saturdays. J's home (but I can work around him) and there are as of yet no obligations here. We have plans to go to a park. That's it!

Takemitsu research actually happened this morning (that's like 3 days in a row- a new record) and I have some hope of actually writing this thing.

It's a little overcast today, but not pouring. The light is luminous on the trees leaves, which have turned and are falling into a mess on my parent's yard. One linguistic difference we noted in news weather folk is that they say "today we'll see some cloud breaks" rather than the "partly cloudy" we're used to. Emphasize the positive, good ol' northwesterners.

I'd post more of our trip pictures, but I'm at home now and the computer will basically grind away for a few promising minutes and then flip me off if I even try it. Maybe we'll spend some time in an internet-capable cafe today. The Cup (mentioned yesterday) is my dad's haunt- on weekend mornings it's packed full of runners who go from there to Minto Park which is a gorgeous place right on the Willamette river. If we go, we'll walk and then sit in the car & drive from the park and most likely also sit and eat cookies as big as our heads.

It's sort of a bifurcated group- those who run and take up very little space on the chairs and those of us who... don't. For now. But I'm much better about all that today. I did a prenatal yoga video yesterday and the 2nd and 3rd trimester models were actual people with boobs, bellies and everything. I felt better just looking at Britta and Poppy (hey, Betsy- another Poppy!) in their body suits.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Things we like about PDX- PICS!!

Simon and The Belly (looks a bit apprehensive, doesn't he?)

Bar-code rock on Mt. Hood

Holey Mt. Hood

Peas in a Pod.

Last weekend we went to Mt. Hood. Our top choices were Astoria and Hood- see, Goonies was filmed in Astoria and parts of The Shining were filmed at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Astoria, however, is quite a drive and Mt. Hood is only an hour or so from Portland so it won.

We took all the back roads- and I was really helpful with telling J where to go at all times.

The drive really was beautiful. I missed the smell and light from those huge forests of pine. And climbing in elevation- what a thrill compared to Wisconsin. (sorry wisconsin)

There will be pictures here shortly. I have to drive to civilization this afternoon in order to upload things. Done! The Governor's Cup Coffee shop is the best. There is a huge machine actually roasting beans next to me and something else smells a bit cinnamon-y, but not too much. Lovely!!

On a brighter note, the septic tank people are coming in about half an hour. Joy!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

blahhhh and woe

I am finding myself without much to say. Unusual for me, I know.

I'm here at my parents' house- they are out of town for another 10 days or so and have been gone a week. J is gone for about 12-13 hours a day. I have a lot to get done; 2 papers and a lecture recital, plus preparing (yeah- right- prepare for that...) for a new human being to arrive in a few months.

I had a not-so-great couple of visits to the Midwives clinic at OHSU. It is a really cool program, reknowned and all that, and I really like the doc I've been seeing there. The problem is that I think I'm gaining weight too fast. Last week she said I was right within the range pounds-wise, but when she measured the bump- okay, mountain- she said it was large for gestational age. So this week we did the glucose-tolerance test and some other blood tests to see how things are, and I had also gained another 3 pounds (IN ONE WEEK!) and was measuring even bigger.

The sick thing is, I find myself hoping something comes up positive because then I'm not to blame.

Losing control is what becoming a mom is about, at this point. So my weight is sort of the symbol of all that, and I can't seem to stop feeling embarrassed. Yesterday some one asked when I'm due and I lied and said, "in a month" just because I didn't want him to think, wow- she's huge.

Weight and my self-image are so closely tied, it's hard to separate them, even for something as obvious as pregnancy. The midwife says not to diet, and I'm trying to eat well- like I did before- but it doesn't seem to matter.

We've been looking at apartments and houses in Portland just to see what's available. I don't know now whether I want to move away from Mom and Dad's before the baby comes or not. It would be nice to have decorating/nesting to do and to start trying to meet some people, but that would mean living really on my own every day, without my mommy.

I think some of this has got to be hormonal.

OH- perfect timing, the doc's office just called and said I passed the tests and am normal. So what do I do? I choke out, "thanks. Bye" and burst into tears.

I feel like a jerk- shouldn't I be all, wow- there's life growing here, gift of God, blah-blah-blah?? I am excited about this kidlet- I just don't know what anything will be like and I've got a bit of culture shock. I don't want to be a weird depressed huge pregnant juggernaut of a person.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Plunging into Dei.

The word "plunge" is looking entirely too strange on the screen.


We checked out Imago Dei last night. I think I expected NOT to like it, because... it's famous and young and could be pretentious. It's definitely very hip. Rachael would have loved the clothes on at least 60% of the chicks there, and that's very high for a Rachael.

The worship was good- they had a sort of rock/bluegrassy feel and did 3 great hymns. One of them they did in 4/4 instead of 3/4, which ironically was exactly what I had wanted to try on our last day of worship at Blackhawk. Because we were in the sanctuary that day the idea was shot down as too radical. This place, though, is like the Cafe at Blackhawk on steroids. White girls with oddly tasteful dreds, little kids in stripey tights and lots of carefully aged dark denim. Not a hugely diverse population, but we went to the 5 o'clock- probably the service favored by college brats.

So there was that hymn, just the wacky way I like it, and then in the sermon (seems the wrong word in this context- need something hipper) "Pastor Rick" played my favorite Sara Groves song, about the troubled girl laying in her backyard wondering if there's a God. Then the kids ministry must have gotten out because all these young hot things went and got their Gap-ad cute kids and brought them back to the service. I swear every one of them was smiling and adorable. It was a younger, gooder Bedford community.

We talked to the worship guy after the service and they do it differently than Blackhawk. (We knew we were leaving something unique and amazing, but different can be good...) They have 4 teams whose members don't really change and they rotate through the month. We've got our names on the list.

There are two things about this church that impressed me- on paper, anyway. One is the School of Theology they have where you can attend classes for free, and they even have daycare. The other is that beauty, art, and creation are a big part of their thing. Before going there in person I thought maybe that was for show- look at us, we're so cool we can even make God art- but I really got the impression they want the whole creative God, creative people thing.

Blackhawk was not esthetically pleasing. I have my doubts as to the new Blackhawk achieving that goal. It's just not a focus for them- and I'm sure there are other things they did well that this church might miss, but Dang! It's nice to see these things valued here.

So we are going for it. Why shop around further? The pastor was intelligent- not a hugely intense message, but a good "unpacking" (that's Christianese) of Romans, which by the way was what Pastor Chris was preaching on Jonathan's first day at Blackhawk. He had good ideas and I liked his illustrations. Like Chris, I did sometimes wish for a little more meat packed in to the time spent, but his theology is sound, he preaches from the bible and I am looking forward to what he's got for next week.

J and I were thinking afterward that corporate gathering is really not where we should expect to get our study anyway. It might provide over-arching interpretive spins and occassional morsels of deep study put in by the pastor, but its main purpose seems to be coming together as a body meditating on the same passages and publicly worshipping God. The serious consistent study part is our job.

So, looks like we go to the Blue Like Jazz church. That still grates on me- and I even mostly liked the book. I guess it's a superiority & individuality thing. I promise to get over myself any second now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

October the 17th

We are tucked in to my parent's place surrounded by fields of cows, rolling hills covered in hay and old oak trees. From where I'm sitting I can see 10 of my Mom's bird houses, and the little valley below their land is blurred with smoke from the neighbor's fall burn piles. Actually those are a little smelly, but don't let it ruin your mentally idyllic image.

Simon's curled up snoring on the office chair next to me- we went for a long walk this morning, the four-mile route up to Lloyd (as we've christened him) the Llama's field. He makes me hold the chair so it doesn't swivel when he jumps in or out.

J is up in Portland, working his first day at Sparkler. It's not really what the firm's called, but a mashing together of bits of parts of the name. He called me after driving the hour up there this morning to say he was walking in, and about to hit the Starbucks in the lobby. You have to hand it to Portlanders and their caffeine habits- they take it very seriously. He looked so hot in his dark suit this morning- even Dad noticed and joked that he "cleans up well".

Yesterday we were in Seattle at the Pikes Place Market and bought fish from the fish throwers. There's a famous seafood place there where they throw the goods back and forth when they're purchased. The guys were great- personalities like characatures of friendly fishermen. The lady in line in front of us was a nut-job proseletizing with Christian tracts and harassing the one Asian guy, screeching, "Buddha can't save you- Jesus can!!!!!!" She creeped me right out, and them too. When she moved on, the guy confided he's a devout catholic, and we fessed up to being Christians- but apparently not her brand. I think she was just a psychotic who happened to fixate on religion. Wonder if she saw that VeggieTales video about the fish-slappers in Ninevah and confused that with the fish-throwers of Seattle. Odd.

Gillian Welch was a great show. Crystal Ballroom's a neat venue with a floor that bounces when people move around and old fashioned decor with funky Venician glass chandaliers. They played two guitars, sometimes also a banjo and harmonica, for close to three hours with a twenty minute break. We were in the front row, tapping on the carpeted stage and drinking in every single thing they did. I like them even more now- they sound exactly as good as they do in studio recordings. I want to be a groupie. (Or is that how you spell that for the fish?)

So many fun things happened in the last week. We saw Rachael! and Tim (her Very Serious Boyfriend)! and we broke the Explorer's $2500 tranny! and the movers laughed at our snow shovel! and people now smile knowingly and ask me how I'm feeling! and my favorite pregnancy skirt is getting tight! and I broke a bra! Geez!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


We have arrived in the great Northwest.

It's beautiful here, and our stuff is all ready to be loaded into storage from the truck. We made it in one piece, visited so many generous relatives I'm afraid to start thanking them because I'll be sure to leave one out.

We are going to a concert tonight. A NON-CLASSICAL concert involving no one I know personally. Yep, Gillian Welch is in Portland, at a cute-looking venue called the Crystal Ballroom. See, this town is being good to us already. We thought a trip to Nashville would be required to see her/him, but nope! I realized I don't think I've ever really been to a legit concert (rock! or rock-like!) ever.

I'll post more from the trip with pictures. We have to go to wireless friendly places because mom & dad's place is out in the dial-up-only boonies.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lasts...and firsts.

We are packing. Now, most people would think well, yeah- you move in 3 days. But those who know us well are singing hallelu. We will actually prepare for this move. There won't be drawers full of stuff and boxes half jammed with things falling out.

We have labels. That's how serious we're taking this whole thing.

All of the junk- it should really just go away in a nice shiny truck like this one.